Personalized treatments for people with back pain and spine disorders
Published: Oct. 11, 2011
Updated: Oct. 11, 2011
Low back pain (LBP) is common and gets more common as we age. You can have pain in the back only, or you can also have pain in the leg. If you are currently having low back pain or had low back pain in the past year this information is for you.
Here are some facts to think about if you have LBP:
For most people with LBP, x-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are not helpful. In fact, new medical studies show early x-rays or MRIs maybe harmful for people with typical back pain because they lead to treatment that you don’t need.
X-rays and MRIs can be helpful for certain types of back pain that lasts for several months.
Many people can care for their back pain without seeing a doctor. Rarely is back pain a sign of a serious problem.
If you have any of the following you should consider seeing either your doctor or a physical therapist (if your insurance doesn’t require a referral):
Almost all people will get better and their back pain will go away in a month or so. It is common to have another event of LBP within one year.
Watch this video by the Duke Spine Center for exercises to strengthen your lower back: Core Strength: Physical Therapy for the Spine.
The majority of reported back pain comes from overworking the back by spraining or straining the muscle and tendons. Other potential sources for back pain include muscle spasms, facet joint arthritis, intervertebral disc degeneration, nerve-root compression, spinal cord compression, spine fracture, and spinal tumors.
The optimal treatment for back pain depends on the cause. If the pain is minor, rest and over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may alleviate the symptoms. If the pain is more severe, physical therapy, bracing, or injections can be beneficial.
If these conservative treatments do not improve your pain, surgery may be recommended, depending on the underlying cause. The Duke Spine Center offers a number of procedures to improve your neck or back pain. Your doctor will discuss which procedures can offer you the best relief.